Have At It: Chicken Caesar Salad


Since it’s summertime, I figure now is probably a good time to share my dad’s most popular salad recipe. For as long as I can remember, chicken caesar salad as a meal has been a major even at my parents’ house, intended for celebrations and big family get-togethers. It was the meal I requested for my birthday dinner every year when I was growing up - and most years since, too. My birthday is next month, so I’ll wait until then to share the my dad’s recipes for homemade croutons and the cheesy garlic bread he pairs with this salad. There will be a lot of butter involved.


According to my dad, a man named Glen Coffey first taught him how to make a traditional caesar salad when he was 14 or 15 years old. Glen Coffey and his wife were best friends with my dad’s folks, the sort of friends who took family camping trips together in the summertime and taught each other’s kids how to cook. Until I started asking him about it, I had no idea my dad had been making caesar salad for 75% of his life. 


It will come as no surprise, though, that my dad also once had a job as the captain of a team of food service professionals at a restaurant called Rafael’s, where he made caesar salads table side for his customers. He worked that job in addition to a regular 9 to 5 when I was a kid, but I have zero recollection of it. He told me about it over the phone last night as though it were something I should remember, but I think I was just too small. It’s consistent with what I’ve always known about my dad’s work ethic, though; he was never above doing any job to take care of his family, and I’ve always respected him for it. He’s a good dad.    

Chicken Caesar Salad

Chicken (this marinade recipe is actually from my mom’s mom and my tiny baby niece's namesake, Vera Forte)


6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

1/2 cup of lemon juice

1/4 cup of water

2 teaspoons of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of paprika

1 tablespoon of minced onion


1) Mix everything but the chicken together to combine, then add the chicken and marinate for at least 4 hours.

2) Grill the chicken, then slice it up for topping the salad.



2 heads of romaine lettuce cleaned and broken by hand - don’t cut it

1/4 cup of grated Parmesan

2/3 cup of olive oil 

1/3 cup of red wine vinegar 

1.5 inch squeeze of anchovy paste (Or if you really want to get fancy, mush anchovies in olive oil to make the paste yourself like my dad did when he was the team captain at Rafael's.)

1 clove of minced garlic

A "pfst" (pretty sure this is the same as a dash) of lemon juice


1) Combine everything but the lettuce and parmesan in a jar with a lid that screws on. Shake it an hour before dressing the salad, then several times before serving.

2) Sprinkle the parmesan over the lettuce.

3) Pour the dressing over the lettuce and toss it together.

4) Coddle an egg. My dad does this by placing an egg in a mug, running it under hot water for 3-5 minutes (of course, he just instinctively "knows" when it's done). The goal is to get the inside of the egg warm and sticky, then separate it and keep the yolk.

5) Beat the egg yolk, drizzle it over the salad, then toss the salad again.

6) Plate it up, throw some chicken in the mix, and eat yourself silly. It's salad. It's good for you.

One of my goals for 2014 is to write one “Have At It” post per month, to include a story from my dad’s life with one of his recipes. I figure if nothing else, it will give me some motivation to get serious about getting my dad’s stories down, even if I have to write them myself. 

Previous Have At It Posts:

Reese's Rice Krispie Treats

Tacos and Salsa


Bean Dip Poppers

Goldrush Cookies

Books I Bought

After I returned my last library book in Denver, I found myself at Tattered Cover a couple of times, justifying my need for new books since who knew when I would get a library card in Seattle and be able to check out books again? I picked up Why We Broke Up the day of the bake sale field trip and The Circle a couple of nights later after celebrating my last day of school during happy hour at The Rio.

Then I added Divergent to my cart one day at Target because I figured if I'm going to call myself an adolescent literacy advocate, I should probably be keeping up with what the kids are reading.

Then I went ahead and ordered The Vacationers and Poking A Dead Frog online even after I got my library card here in Seattle - mostly because there are so many holds on both and I want to read them RIGHT NOW.

So I finished Why We Broke Up (it was good, but probably not appropriate for all teen readers) and started The Circle (it's fascinating - I'm almost finished) and then the books I placed holds on at the library started arriving at my local branch for me to pick up and I somehow ended up with eight library books as well. So I've got some reading to do.

Have you read any of the books in the pile? Did you buy any of them to keep forever?  

PS: Are you on Goodreads? Let's be friends!


Photo Via

Photo Via

Well good morning to you. What a week this has been. I have to say, my heart is heavy with sadness for all that's happening around the world and since I mostly feel powerless to do anything else, I'm praying for peace. Most of the time I've spent online this week has been spent reading about serious matters - less about finding fun things to share. So here are some of my "favorite" things from The Internet lately - for anyone interested. I hope they're helpful, though I suspect you may not necessarily enjoy them all. 

Background on the conflict in Ukraine, in case (like me) you need a primer after yesterday's plane crash. 

"At one elementary school, during a faculty meeting, a principal forced a teacher whose students had tested poorly to crawl under the table." This is heartbreaking and infuriating. 

I went to Comcast twice this week. I feel this guy's pain.

This makes me sick to my stomach with sadness.

"But fathers matter most, of course, in childhood, when the seeds of many future traits are planted." Rocket science.

And this, for a little bit of beauty and hope.

Miss Mo Design


When I first met my cousin Brady's wife, Melissa, they were both in high school and we were in the mountains celebrating Christmas with our whole giant family. I remember thinking at the time that she was incredibly brave for agreeing to meet us all at once in that environment, but then she showed up and was beautiful and funny and delightful and we all loved her instantly. I imagine at least one person told Brady that if he screwed things up with her he'd never be forgiven. The two of them just celebrated seven years of marriage and have two precious little girls, so Brady gets to keep all of his fingers and toes.

Melissa recently launched her design shop, Miss Mo Design, and I LOVE what she's got going on there. Her stuff "currently focuses on prints for the home, a child's room, and a few that might help mark a special occasion, such as a wedding or the purchase of a first home." One of my sisters gave me one of her prints as a going away gift, and it's the perfect reminder of home and family, some of the things I hold most dear.

Miss Mo Design offers super affordable digital prints, should you have the ability to print them at home, but also the option to have them printed in a couple of different sizes. Based on what I know about Melissa, I can pretty much guarantee you'll also receive top notch customer service and quick responses anytime you shop at Miss Mo.  

ALSO. Melissa's offering a special deal just for you, friends. Now through next Tuesday (July 22), buy two digital prints and get two digital prints FREE. You could give them to all your favorite people! Or keep them for yourself. We won't judge. This offer does not include printing. Use the promo code: JENNYSBLOG. 

You could give one as a baby shower gift. Or give them as gifts to teachers when school starts again. Or hang one in your kitchen next to the ice cream maker. The possibilities are endless. What are you waiting for? Go check it out! Do it now. Go.